Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

What Factors Influence the English Pronunciation of Efl Learners?

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

What Factors Influence the English Pronunciation of Efl Learners?

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

Martínez-Flor et al. (2006) and Aliaga García (2007) stated that English pronunciation is one of the most difficult skills to acquire and develop. This is because of a number of factors such as age, motivation, and amount of exposure to the L2. Learners should spend lots of time to make better their pronunciation. According to Abbas Pourhossein Gilakjani (2012), understandable pronunciation is one of the basic needs for learners' competence. Pronunciation is one of the most important attributes of language teaching and learning and some English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers and learners have serious problems with pronunciation. Acceptable pronunciation leads to learning while bad pronunciation promotes to a lot of problems in language learning.

Abbas Pourhossein Gilakjani and Mohammad Reza Ahmadi (2011) stated that the way learners pronounce words should be changed according to the way of thinking about both the component sounds of those words and the larger parts of speech like syllables, stress patterns, and rhythm. However, some EFL learners have great difficulties in learning pronunciation due to some affecting factors. According to Esling and Wong (1983), phonetic symbols and rules are not the only factors that affect pronunciation. There are some other factors that impact pronunciation learning. They include the production of sounds, voice, aspiration, stress, intonation, and rhythm.

Pennington and Richards (1986) stated that there are some factors in pronunciation like native language interference and age and these factors should be particularly considered in pronunciation. Therefore, if teachers and learners want to teach and learn pronunciation effectively, they should consider these affecting factors in their instruction and learning. According to Kenworthy (1987), there are six factors that affect pronunciation learning. These are the native language, age, amount of exposure, phonetic ability, attitude, and motivation. In this paper, the researcher defines pronunciation, reviews the factors that influence pronunciation in EFL situation, and then mentions some suggestions for improving learners' English pronunciation.

2. What Is Pronunciation?

According to Cook (1996), pronunciation is the production of English sounds. This is learnt by repeating them and by being corrected when they are produced incorrectly. When learners start learning pronunciation they make new habits and overcome the difficulties resulting from the first language. Yates (2002) stated that pronunciation is the production of sounds that is used for making meaning. It involves segmental, suprasegmental features, and voice quality.

3. Factors That Influence on Pronunciation Learning

While teaching English pronunciation, EFL teachers should consider the factors that have an impact on the pronunciation learning of their learners. In this section, the most significant factors that influence on the pronunciation learning of EFL learners are thoroughly examined.

3.1.Age

Age has a great impact on English pronunciation. Persons who have native-like pronunciation, they have probably begun learning it in their childhood. Individuals who start learning pronunciation in adulthood, will rarely gain a native-like accent (Sebestová, 2007). According to Kenworthy (1987), learning of pronunciation hinges on age; that is, language learning has a sensitive period and that after that persons lose some capabilities. This certain age is between ten and thirteen years.

Snow (1992) supported this claim and said that pronunciation is one of the skills that the young people will be able to gain better pronunciation. Piske, MacKay, and Flege (2001) demonstrated that age is an important element in acquiring a foreign accent. Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) can explain this reason. According to CPH, learners will face some difficulties to learn a language at late ages particularly after puberty for the first language (Lenneberg, 1967). …

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